People generally don't think of the elderly as nuisance neighbors. They rarely throw loud late-night parties, play loud music or have loud sex. Nevertheless, the issue of elderly group homes is a controversial one in single-family neighborhoods.
On a stretch of leafy Sierra Bonita Avenue near Hollywood, an operator of board-and-care facilities wants to tear down a duplex and construct an 11-bed facility for elderly residents suffering from dementia. In theory, that's fine: According to state law, a city cannot prohibit licensed care facilities that meet the zoning requirements. But in this area, zoning regulations permit single-family homes and duplexes, and the state defines a family as consisting of any number of related members or up to six unrelated people. Because Raya's Paradise, the operator of the facility, wants to go over the six-bed limit, it applied for a zoning variance.
Neighbors weren't pleased. Some complained that 24 facilities for the elderly are already located within a mile of this project. Care facilities mean multiple cars of staff and visitors, parking problems, more trash and — some say — lower property values.
For his part, Moti Gamburd, the executive director of Raya's Paradise, says the 11-bed residence would require less staff and would cause less parking congestion than two side-by-side six-bed residences housing a total of 12 people — which he legally could open on the duplex lot. His company's facilities, he says, are meticulously kept, devoid of signage and blend in with their neighborhoods. Nonetheless, a city zoning administrator denied the variance, saying it would set a precedent that could start an erosion of "the low-density character and appearance of the area." Gamburd tried again under a different city ordinance and was again denied. His appeal of that ruling is scheduled to be heard Tuesday.